Provincial Legislative Update – June 2, 2023

An overview of the Provincial and Territories Legislative Updates for the week of June 2, 2023.

New Brunswick

  • New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says he’s disappointed with a Saint John mother’s comments about her dealings with Education Minister Bill Hogan on a review of a school policy on LGBTQ students. Nicole Paquet told CBC News last week that Hogan asked her for help reworking a section on whether parents should be told about their children expressing their sexual orientation or gender identity at school.
  • The Minister of Education has assured parents that he does not plan on making it mandatory to out children who want to use different names and pronouns in schools. Bill Hogan said what he’s actually considering is preventing teachers from using the child’s preferred name and pronoun until a parent consents.
  • New Brunswick drivers appear likely to face two new carbon-related charges this time next month that could add as much as 12.4 cents per litre to the price of gasoline and 14.2 cents to diesel, factoring in all changes, including the effect of the HST. In a province that consumes 1.4 billion litres of the two fuels each year, it’s a potential cost to consumers in excess of $175 million, less than one-third of which will be subject to rebates.

Nova Scotia

  • Residents whose homes have been damaged or destroyed in a wildfire that continues to burn outside Halifax were given the chance to see their properties Friday on bus tours of the charred landscape. In an email sent to the affected residents by the Halifax Regional Municipality’s emergency management office shortly after 8 p.m. AT Thursday, officials said the tour of some 200 homes would leave from the Canada Games Centre in Halifax at 11 a.m.
  • Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Zach Churchill is calling for a complete stop to forestry and other commercial activity in the province’s woods until there is a shift in weather, but the minister responsible says there are sufficient safety precautions in place to allow some activity to continue. Churchill made the call on Thursday, as firefighters continued battling out-of-control wildfires in Shelburne County, Yarmouth County and Halifax Regional Municipality.
  • The federal government has approved further resources to help fight the wildfires ripping through parts of Nova Scotia. Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair announced the support Thursday morning in Ottawa. The Canadian Armed Forces will provide planning and coordination support, as well as firefighters and fire specialists to help control the blazes. The firefighters will be used to relieve crews who have been working on the ground for days.
  • Because of wildfires, insurance companies have stopped issuing new home, auto and other insurance policies in parts of Nova Scotia. The restriction was triggered by the province’s emergency declaration and will remain until the order is lifted. It is delaying the closing of some homes and car sales in areas up to 50 kilometres outside the fire zones.

Prince Edward Island

  • For three days, P.E.I.’s Official Opposition has asked Public Safety Minister Bloyce Thompson to table the province’s plans to deal with a future evacuation made necessary by a wildfire or other emergency. When the minister finally tabled two documents Thursday, Opposition leader Hal Perry made it clear he was not impressed. “We wanted a plan to put Islanders’ minds at ease in case of a disaster,” Perry told reporters. 
  • Prince Edward Island has to address discrimination if it wants to reap the benefits of a wave of new immigrants, an advocacy group says. Participants in the two-and-a-half day National Small Centres Conference this week discussed the challenges and opportunities that migration offers to small and rural communities. The conference, held at the Delta Hotel in Charlottetown, focused on what small cities like the P.E.I. capital have to do to retain newcomers.
  • The president of the P.E.I. Nurses’ Union is calling on the province to review its mobile mental health service and 24/7 mental health and addictions phone line. “We’ve been running with one to three RNs [registered nurses] in the program as well as the … social worker positions,” Barbara Brookins said. “We just want to know what the follow-up is and who actually knows whether or not there have been RNs and social workers performing the tasks.”  The province launched the mobile mental health response service back in October 2021, contracting Medavie Health Services Inc. to operate the program.
  • P.E.I. needs to put better job protection in place for Islanders undergoing cancer treatments, says Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker. During the question period Thursday, Bevan-Baker questioned Health Minister Mark McLane on a number of recommendations recently delivered by the Canadian Cancer Society. Among those was an extension of job-protected leave to match the 26 weeks of benefits offered under federal employment insurance.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • A federal cabinet minister from Newfoundland and Labrador is taking aim at a Norwegian oil giant over what he calls the “sadistic” timing of a decision to delay an offshore oil project in deep water off Canada’s East Coast. Equinor announced Wednesday it is shelving the Bay du Nord project for up to three years, citing “challenging market conditions.” The news dropped in a press release issued in the middle of the Energy N.L. industry conference in St. John’s.
  • The head of Suncor’s operations in Newfoundland and Labrador gave an update at the Energy N.L. conference on Wednesday but didn’t give much insight into the holdup with Terra Nova. Brent Miller said the top priority for the company in Newfoundland and Labrador is returning Terra Nova to production. He didn’t say when that’s expected to happen, or give specifics on why it hasn’t happened yet.
  • The company planning to generate electricity through renewable wind energy in western Newfoundland has purchased the Port of Stephenville to serve as a shipping hub for green hydrogen and ammonia. World Energy GH2 says acquiring the port is an important step toward bringing hydrogen and ammonia produced in Newfoundland to global markets. Talks to acquire the port have been ongoing for at least a year, with World Energy GH2 chairman John Risley entering into an agreement in May 2022 with First Nations partners to acquire the port.
  • The federal government is spending $86 million on the Come By Chance refinery to help convert the facility from one that refines oil to one that produces biofuels, in a move Federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson called preparing for the “economy of tomorrow.” The refinery’s owners, Braya Renewable Fuels is partnering with ABO Wind, a German wind energy company, on the project. ABO hopes to power the refinery with green hydrogen by 2027, begin exporting to foreign markets by 2028 and reach full-scale operations by the start of the next decade.

Quebec

  • Quebec solidaire (QS) was in a tough spot Tuesday as it was forced to defend itself over the question of raising MNAs’ salaries. The Legault government’s Bill 24, which increases the base salary of MNAs by $30,000, is currently being studied in the National Assembly. QS has always said it will vote against the bill. However, QS parliamentary leader Alexandre Leduc tabled a series of amendments last Thursday, first proposing a $10,000 increase, then a $20,000 one.
  • Quebec’s government has officially tapped Michael Sabia as the next head of Hydro-Quebec. In a tweet, Premier Francois Legault announced Sabia would serve as president and CEO of the Crown corporation, succeeding Sophie Brochu. Legault says Sabia “is an experienced man who will be able to pursue and overcome the challenges of Quebec’s energy transition,” according to a translation. Sabia has served as Canada’s deputy minister of finance since 2020.
  • General Motors Co. and Posco Future M Co., Ltd. have secured half of the financing for a $600 million electric-vehicle battery component plant in Quebec from the provincial and federal governments. In March 2022, the U.S. and South Korean companies announced plans to form a joint venture dubbed Ultium Cam and build a cathode material factory in Becancour, halfway between Montreal and Quebec City
  • The Quebec government wants to legislate a ban on planned obsolescence to ensure products bought by consumers can be repaired. Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette introduced a bill today that would amend Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act to prohibit the sale of any product whose obsolescence is planned. It would also require manufacturers and retailers to ensure replacement parts and repair services are available at a reasonable price for the products they sell in the province.

Ontario

  • Ontario will contribute one-third of the cost to secure a deal with Stellantis to save Windsor’s electric vehicle battery plant, Premier Doug Ford revealed Thursday, though the final amount the province is chipping in won’t be made public until after a deal is signed. Making an announcement in Windsor-Essex, Ford maintained the deal with Stellantis was the federal government’s to secure.
  • The day after saying he had “no comment” on a controversial decision not to raise the Pride flag at a York Region school board, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has avoided commenting directly on the controversy, reaffirming his commitment to celebrating pride instead. Answering a question from Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles during the question period, Ford said Pride was “a special time for us to recognize and celebrate Ontario’s LGBTQ+ community.”
  • Yasir Naqvi has entered the race for the Ontario Liberal leadership. The Ottawa Centre Liberal MP will formally launch his leadership campaign at St. Anthony’s Banquet Hall in Ottawa Saturday morning, Naqvi’s campaign spokesperson tells CTV News Ottawa. He also has an event scheduled in Mississauga Saturday evening. Naqvi, who previously served as Ottawa Centre Liberal MPP, submitted his paperwork to enter the leadership race on Friday.
  • Under pressure from farmers, Premier Doug Ford’s government is considering backing off from proposals that would allow more housing to be built on Ontario’s dwindling farmland, CBC News has learned. Leaders of a range of farming and agricultural groups met with senior government officials last week to raise their concerns about proposed changes to provincial land-use policy that Ford and his ministers have said will spur new home construction. 
  • The Doug Ford government will be fast-tracking a bill that will break up the Region of Peel into three independent cities. A motion is expected to be tabled on Tuesday that would effectively allow the Progressive Conservatives to push the legislation through to the third reading without having to go to committee.

Manitoba

  • Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson formally apologized in the legislature Thursday to former residents of the Manitoba Developmental Centre, one of the country’s last large institutional facilities for people with intellectual disabilities. Stefanson’s apology, part of a $17-million class-action settlement earlier this year, focused partly on abuse and neglect suffered by former residents. But it also touched on the larger issue of housing people in large institutions instead of in the community with personal supports.
  • Manitoba’s legislature wrapped up Thursday for the summer break and an upcoming election campaign that is expected to focus on health care, taxes and crime. The final sitting before the vote scheduled for Oct. 3 saw the governing Progressive Conservatives pass dozens of bills into law. There were bills related to the budget, which saw the government boost spending sharply after years of deficit-fighting. There were anti-crime measures, such as giving municipalities more power to post security staff on transit, and legislation to make it easier for victims of revenge porn to sue those who post their intimate images.
  • Pierre Poilievre is in Manitoba to rally Conservative supporters ahead of a byelection that Maxime Bernier is hoping will put him back in Parliament. Bernier, the People’s Party of Canada leader, lost his Quebec seat in the 2019 federal vote and lost again in the 2021 election. The riding of Portage-Lisgar came up for grabs after longtime Conservative MP Candice Bergen, who served as the party’s interim leader before Poilievre took over, decided to resign.

Saskatchewan

  • The Saskatchewan government announced Thursday that it’s giving an additional $40 million to the province’s school divisions to support enrolment growth and “the complexity of today’s classrooms” in the 2023-24 year. The move comes after teachers called for more money to keep up with inflation, enrolment and the complex needs of some students. The Saskatchewan Federation of Teachers (STF) told CBC News Thursday afternoon that it’s very disappointed with the amount of funding.
  • Higher risk residents from the northern village of La Loche are fleeing their community for the second time in May as a wildfire is moving toward the community. A state of emergency has been called for the northern village about 510 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon. Buses are taking residents south to Regina on Wednesday. A mandatory evacuation order is in place for priority one and two residents of La Loche. That includes people with cardiac and respiratory conditions, elders, those with mobility needs, children 5 years old and younger, pregnant mothers and those requiring special care.
  • Regina’s school resource officer (SRO) program, which puts police officers in schools, is still under review by the city’s public and Catholic school divisions. The partnership between the police and the divisions has been running for 43 years. It currently sees 15 officers stationed across Regina elementary and high schools. The school divisions hired Praxis Consulting to conduct a periodic review of the program. They conducted an online survey and open houses at several elementary schools for student and community input. Focus groups for students were also held in December 2022.

Alberta

  • Danielle Smith is now facing her first big test as Alberta’s returning premier — picking a new cabinet after losing several senior MLAs. “You’re going to see a very different cabinet,” said Duane Bratt, political scientist at Mount Royal University. Six cabinet ministers, including Health Minister Jason Copping, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro and Deputy Premier Kaycee Madu, were not re-elected. Mental Health and Addiction Minister Nicholas Milliken, Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jeremy Nixon and Culture Minister Jason Luan also lost their seats.
  • In one of her first interviews since leading the United Conservative Party to a majority government in Alberta, Premier Danielle Smith said she takes the margins of the popular vote in Monday’s election — 52.6 percent for the UCP, 44 percent for the NDP — as a clear mandate. “I think that says that people took all of the aspects into consideration and what they decided is they like the UCP agenda,” Smith told CBC’s Power & Politics.
  • After a historically slim majority win, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith now faces the difficult task of navigating a political landscape fiercely divided along geographical and ideological lines. As expected, Monday’s election saw the UCP dominate rural Alberta, the NDP sweep Edmonton, and both parties almost split battleground Calgary, with at least two ridings so close they will need recounts. That means there won’t be an elected official from Edmonton in the provincial government, and Smith’s caucus will be flush with rural MLAs.
  • Fresh off leading Alberta’s United Conservative Party to a majority victory on Monday night, Premier Danielle Smith says she wants to “reset” her relationship with the federal government while readying to invoke the province’s sovereignty act over emissions targets if needed.

British Columbia

  • British Columbia Premier David Eby is heading to Asia on a trade mission that makes stops in Japan, Korea, Singapore and Vietnam. But the premier’s tour itinerary, released Thursday, does not include China. Eby said the overseas mission will bolster B.C.’s trade and investment ties in the Indo-Pacific region, the world’s fastest-growing economic zone. “We know how trade routes can be disrupted by global events,” said Eby at a Saturday press conference, adding he is the first premier to go on a mission to the region since the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • There was no shortage of interest Thursday as the B.C. government opened applications for its new electric bicycle rebate program. The provincial government has created a fund of $6 million, available as of June 1, to offset the cost of e-bikes. Under the program, people aged 19 and up are eligible for rebates ranging from $350 to $1,400 on bikes priced $2,000 or more.
  • British Columbia’s Environment Ministry has announced another $25 million in funding for coastal cleanup and restoration of the marine environment. This brings its total investment for the Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund to about $50 million. Environment Minister George Heyman told a news conference Tuesday that debris from more than 4,600 kilometres of shoreline has been removed so far while creating more than 1,700 jobs.
  • Select municipalities in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Greater Victoria, and the interior are amongst the first 10 municipal jurisdictions that will be subject to the Government of British Columbia’s new Housing Supply Act. BC Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon made the announcement Wednesday morning, marking the first big step on the legislation since it was introduced in late 2022.

Northwest Territories

  • The Northwest Territories won’t host the 2026 Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife, says the territory’s municipal affairs minister. Minister Shane Thompson told the Legislative Assembly this week that the idea was considered, but the City of Yellowknife decided against the territorial government’s proposal. “Ultimately, the decision was the City of Yellowknife’s to make, and I respect their decision,” Thompson said. “I can confirm that the [territorial government] has communicated to the Arctic Winter Games International Committee that it’s not proceeding with hosting the Arctic Winter Games in 2026.”

Yukon

  • Tension in Mayo, Yukon is starting to ease months after the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun sounded an alarm about escalating violence and drugs in the community. The First Nation’s chief and council passed a resolution in mid-March declaring a state of emergency related to opioids just days after a double homicide. Now, with that declaration set to end on June 14, people in Mayo say they’re coming together and holding celebrations again. 
  • Adeline Webber, a member of the Teslin Tlingit Council and longtime advocate for Indigenous rights, has been named the new commissioner of the Yukon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment on Wednesday morning, saying in a news release that Webber “has a remarkable understanding of the unique needs of Indigenous Peoples and all Yukoners.” “I am confident that she will continue to serve them well in her new role,” Trudeau said. Webber will succeed Angélique Bernard, whose five-year term as the territory’s commissioner ends Wednesday.

Nunavut

  • A Nunavut MLA says the territory is abandoning children in its care, and that a lack of government resources is no excuse. The comments by Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster, MLA for Iqaluit-Sinaa, come in response to a scathing report issued by Auditor General Karen Hogan on Tuesday. That report found that the territory inadequately responded to reports of suspected harm to children in care, did not complete many investigations, did not sufficiently monitor the welfare of children in care, failed to meet obligations for the health and safety of employees, and could not provide accurate numbers of children in its care.

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